With a new coach and style of play, the Kirtland Hornets enter the 2018-2019 season with a fresh outlook and the hopes of competing for the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division title.
Shawn McGregor is in his first year at Kirtland after spending the last 15 at Hawken, where he compiled a 182-134 record.
“If our young men compete and play to their potential, the sky is the limit for what we can accomplish this year,” McGregor said. “We’ve got great kids that work hard, so I can’t wait for the season to get on the way.
The Hornets return three starters and six others with varsity experience from the squad that finished 13-9 overall and 10-4 in league play last winter.
Kirtland has 10 seniors on the roster—including all five in the projected starting lineup—providing the Hornets with a blend of experience and talent.
“We have an outstanding group of seniors that are looking forward to the challenge of the CVC,” McGregor said. “We are deep and talented, so my hope is with our style of play we will be able to put pressure on opposing teams on both ends of the floor.”
Seniors Dominic Capretta (6-foot) and Dawson Cosgrove (6-0) will start at guard for the Hornets. Capretta, a returning starter, will handle the point guard duties.
“Dom will be a key part of our success. He’ll be our primary ball handler and his leadership and decision making will be key,” McGregor said. “Cosgrove is a talented scorer that can score in a variety of ways.”
Adam Mueller, a 6-foot senior small forward, and senior Seann McGill, a 6-foot-7 power forward, return in the backcourt.
“Mueller is a bulldog on both ends of the floor. I’m hoping he will be our defensive stopper. He’s an exceptional athlete that can change a game in a variety of ways,” McGregor said. “Seann is a talented player that is starting to scratch the surface of how good he can be. He is gifted as an athlete and can score from inside and out. With the right frame of mind, a great work ethic, and a desire to be great, he will have a tremendous year.”
Senior Luke Camino, a 6-foot-3 center, rounds out the projected starting lineup.
“Luke is a talented player with a high basketball IQ,” McGregor said. “He has the ability to knock down the 3 ball as well as dominate in the post.”
The Hornets have size and experience on the bench.
Seniors Jack Bailey is a 6-foot-5 difference maker in the paint and seniors Andrew DeMarco and Mike Bottesch both stand 6-foot-4. Junior Zach Samsa is 6-foot-3.
“Bailey is a big, strong, physical athlete that will be a difference maker for us. He is a tremendous low post scorer and rebounder and our best screen setter in the game,” McGregor said. “DeMarco is a big body that loves to do the dirty work. He’s a great rebounder that runs the floor exceptionally well for a big and has a tremendous work ethic. (Bottesch) is a talented offensive player on the block and from the arc. I’m excited to see his game take the next step. Samsa is a gifted athlete that hurts opposing teams in a variety of ways. He knows how to play in space and always seems to be in right place at the right time.”
Seniors Connor Gron (6-1) and Tommy Powers (6-0) and junior Jonathon Ridgeway (5-11) also will contribute this winter.
Gron is dangerous from behind the arc and a strong defender that can play multiple positions. Powers, the quarterback of the Kirtland football team, is a tremendous leader with a knack for making plays. He’s also a lockdown defender and intense competitor. Ridgeway is a secondary ball handler with an outstanding shot. He has the potential to create offense off the dribble, which will benefit the Hornets this season.
While the Hornets have the potential to do great things this winter, they’ll have to hit the floor running as all but two players also play football for the Hornets and won’t step foot on the court until after the football playoffs are complete.
“We will need to be ready to play from the get-go,” McGregor said. “We have a lot to learn and little time to learn it in, but as long as we play hard and compete I’ll be happy.”